A COLLECTION of treasure including coins, Viking arm rings and silver ingots could be worth more than £1million.
Metal detectorist James Mather, 60, unearthed the “Watlington Hoard” in October and it has now been declared treasure by the Oxfordshire coroner before it is valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee.
It comprises 200 rare coins or coin fragments, seven items of jewellery and 15 ingots. Some of the coins date back to King Alfred “the Great” of Wessex (871-99) and King Ceolwulf II of Mercia (874-79). Archaeologists have said the find is “nationally significant”.
The hoard was excavated by the Portable Antiquities Scheme and taken to the British Museum in London to be studied by experts.
It dates from the time of the Last Kingdom, when the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex were fighting for their survival from the threat of a Great Heathen Army, leading to the unification of England.
It was buried around the end of the 870s in the period following Alfred’s decisive defeat of the Vikings at Edington.
Mr Mather, a retired advertising and marketing executive from Tilehurst, Reading, said: “Naturally, I’m delighted that this exceptionally rare find has been declared treasure. It wasn’t exactly a surprise because the items did meet the criteria. Most of the coins are in stunning condition.
“Speculation suggests that this hoard would be comfortably worth a seven-figure sum. I hope that the valuations will be realistic and a fair reward will be agreed that will be divided between myself and the landowner, as stipulated by the Treasure Act.”
Examples of the find are currently on display in the British Museum’s Citi Money Gallery. The last hoard of this type found in the South was in the 1860s in Croydon. It is hoped that the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford will acquire the collection with the support of Oxfordshire Museum Service and the British Museum.
This partnership will ensure the academic and scientific study of the hoard and enable it to be displayed in museums across the county.